Instagram success: 6 things you need to know

Change is something that we deal with in our everyday lives, from a diversion on the way to work to price hikes in your favourite coffee house, social media is no different.

They regularly evaluate and update their algorithms (algorithms are a series of mathematical steps to help with performance resulting in an answer to a problem). Not too long-ago Instagram, the Facebook owned company, decided to do exactly this. Read on to see how this will affect user experience (UX).

What’s changed?

Cast your mind back to 2016 when Instagram changed the algorithm that created reverse chronological feeds, which essentially revealed the end of a plot before the start. The reverse chronological ordering was sacked off in 2016 due to many users missing 70 percent of all posts and 50 percent of their closely followed accounts. However, Instagram recently announced that they had adopted a new algorithm which follows a more chronological ordering with six factors. These give users greater post coverage along with a fresh feel. Instagram historically has been pretty quiet about how it all works but, on this occasion, they have opened up.

How the new algorithm works?

The updated algorithm not only looks at who their users follow it also makes calculations based on what users like and how they engage with posts. Posts are now personalised, with not one feed being the same as the next. Instagram believes that 90 per cent of posts curated by friends and family will now be visible, which is a huge leap compared with the previous 50 per cent in 2016.

The algorithm predicts what users want to view by applying its six stage criteria to ongoing engagement. Here are the six factors Instagram now uses…


Instagram decides how popular a post would be with its user. The more popular it feels the post will be the higher up it will show in a feed. It basically looks at previous scrolling and clicking behaviours and calculates these against current posts. If a user likes motorbikes and a post has been published about motorbikes, they will assume its going to be a winner.


The new algorithm will favour up to date posts against ones that are much older – as simple as that really. In response to this change professionals will need to be producing up to date materials to ensure they don’t end up archived and at the bottom of its followers’ feeds.


If a user comments, tags and interacts well with others, Instagram will assume they are in the friends and family category. Comment more on a user’s photos and videos and see how they begin to show up on your feed.


If Instagram is used regularly, the feed will look more chronologically up-to-date as Instagram is trying to show the latest posts that are considered interesting to its user. However, if you only scroll now and then, the feed will focus on what’s considered to be more popular and interesting to the user. It will be less focused on making the feed chronological in this instance.


The consequence to an account that has many followers is that posts will become diluted. The feed will contain a bit of everyone and not much of anything. Compared with an account that has just a few followers where posts will show more frequently and regularly. It may or may not be the right time to consider the theory less is more and unfollow those unwanted accounts.


Instagram will be put to work digging through its catalogue to find up to date posts that are of interest for a user who sits for hours scrolling through the feed. Highlights will more likely appear if engagement time is minimal… a bit like ‘the best bits’.

For professional who are using Instagram as a marketing tool these changes mean:

  • More content needs to be produced to stay on top
  • Avoid republishing work to save time as users will not engage with it if they have seen it before
  • Be more aware of when your audience is using Instagram, so your content is timely and doesn’t end up at the bottom before you have even started!
  • Engage your audience so they spend longer with you, and in turn your content will show up more regularly on their feeds
  • Leave comments and create a community that want to interact with you and your enterprise.

If you would like further help to develop a social media strategy that works with up to date algorithms and platforms, then say hello to one of our team at Proactive Marketing Solutions.